Joy Thief: My Observation (John 10:10) by: Dana Lewis

John 10:10, ESV

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Satan, our enemy, is a joy thief. He likes to use people, situations we do not know much about, misunderstandings, the past, disappointments which sometimes stem from (false) expectations,feelings of hopelessness, exclusion, rejection and so-called “perfect” images posted in and throughout social media to keep us in a perpetual place of ~JOYLESSNESS~

If he can steal our joy he can get ahold of our hope and distort our desires. He can cause us to believe the lies in front of us which he’s constructed in order to keep us distracted and unwilling to seek TRUTH. Without the supernatural power of the joy of the Lord we turn to a life of faithlessness. We stop believing in the possibility that God can turn things around for us – for our greater good. We begin to slip into the traps of constant comparisons. Telling ourselves that if we were more like… had more of… and if we only were with… then we’d have… and more people would embrace us as…

Once we begin starve our spirit man of its righteous foods in order to feed our souls the (un)spiritual foods which will destroy us from within – out, it’s a downhill spiral from there for us. Everything about our ability to survive and maintain, function and cope becomes a FIGHT.

This was never God’s intent for us.

He (God) is NOT our enemy. Sin, Satan and this flesh are our enemies. When we understand what is draining us of our joy we will know the importance of guarding our joy and our peace – noticing the attacks of the enemy, his strategies and we will get stronger in our decision to refuse to follow him into those traps, again. We become stronger in heart, in mind and in our sight. We will be more intentional about our investments (our time & energy).

Understand –

Everyone gets down from time to time, but we do not have to take up residence there in the low times and areas of our lives. We can choose to vacate those spaces and periods anytime we want. Just like wallowing in our sadness is a decision we make, so is it with taking up God’s promised JOY and walking on in faith until… until something changes – something different happens for us. He gives it to us freely, His abundant joy – & it’s our responsibility to hold on to it – to use it when we face various trials and setbacks. Joy is not situational. Happiness is.

That part!

Joy is much like a surfboard – We can learn to use it to ride out the waves or we can keep it standing pretty as a show piece for others to envy. I’d rather to my board out and ride the biggest waves. 💖

Just to find out how indestructible God has made the joy within using LIFE’S TOUGHEST, HARDEST TEST.

I gotta know for myself.

Let’s go surfin’!! ☺️

Wipeouts only teach us how to ride the waves better – longer, smarter. The waves will always come – stronger, taller, faster, crashing down louder and harder. If they bring us back to shore – let’s jump right back on our boards to swim out – set our feet firmly on our boards using our core to balance us and RIIIIIIIIIIIIDE THE WAVES. Wooohooohooooooooo!!!

The joy of the Lord, the peace which Jesus speaks of in John 14 is much like our core. The more we exercise it the stronger it gets. The more UNBOTHERED we become by life’s hard hits. Troubles will always be there, fam. We can choose right now just how we plan to ride them out when they come crashing down all around us – like the waves of the sea. We choose… We can train hard and conquer the waves and enjoy this life for what it is or we can allow the ocean to take us under – drown us.

Do all that you can to stay afloat, fam. You have the Joy of the Lord right here, right now. Right here, right now. Whether life is going well for you or not, the joy of the Lord is yours to grab hold of and to cling to. God’s joy is our lifesaver. Don’t let go just because things are a bit rough for you, this season.

Let the joy of the Lord be exactly what He sent it to be –

Our STRENGTH.

You got this! 💪🏾😉

GOD TOOLS: TESTED & PROVEN (By: Dana Lewis)

I’m grateful my Gurlz keep me on my knees before Almighty God. I thank God for the fact that every waking moment (in my parenting) I NEED AND RELY SOLELY ON HIM.

I am thankful for the trials and hardships which come with consistently keeping to the course of raising godly young ladies for His glory. I’m thankful for the tears I shed sometimes due to the pain and strain parenting sometimes brings. I’m thankful for the maturing parenting brings. I’m thankful for the growth I must develop – I can’t skip a single step. Parenting is a gift of the Father, the Lord of Host. It’s a real job with benefits. We will either receive good rewards by what we instill in our children – or reap the bad consequences of our poor choices. I will never forget – I was six months pregnant with my first baby and I begrudgingly asked my mother what was the best way to ensure I am a good parent and raise my baby right? (I say ”begrudgingly”, because I was sooooo filled with pride. I did not want my mother to know I feared messing up nor did I want to let on that her parenting of my brother and I was impactful… right. She had done well, despite how I turned out. I knew… Getting her wisdom was going to save us both – my baby & I)

My mother answered so gently, “Be consistent. No matter what… Be and stay consistent. Consistency is KEY! Let your yes be yes and your no be no, because the first time you say something and do not follow-thru, you can forget about it! The rest is history! I mean it! Be consistent!!”

I’ve learned a huge lesson and fact about parenting – Children will keep us consistently ~ON OUR KNEES/FACES BEFORE ALMIGHTY GOD~

Now that my Gurlz are teens – soon to be young (independent) adults I PRAY LIKE I DRINK WATER

~CONSISTENTLY~

I thank God for the humility which has developed in me from the hardships of raising independently thinking/speaking teenaged Gurlz. Listen… I PRAY FOR FORGIVENESS FOR MY POOR CHOICED WORDS, THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS MORE NOW THAN EVER!! In sincere humility, I seek forgiveness of both my Gurlz and readily admit to them my faults and shortcomings. Most importantly, I follow the lead of Holy Spirit – kneeling before the Lord, repenting, confessing, -Itemizing every thing Holy Spirit convicts my heart is/was wrong to say/do. I kneel at the feet of Jesus and speak my truth to Him – exchanging my anger, hurt, and disappointment for His promised peace and His wisdom on how to go and make things right between my children and I. I do my absolute best to get as far away from pride and “fleshiness” and to break sin and Satan’s grip on me – I SPEAK OPENLY, QUICKLY, HONESTLY OF MY MISREPRESENTATION OF THE LORD, OF MY LIFE OF WORSHIP AND MY MISREPRESENTATION OF GOD’S LOVE, FORGIVENESS AND HIS GRACE. I expose my own sinful flesh in order to receive newness of life, thinking, speaking, sounding, walking and living. The Word clearly says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25 (KJV)

Check this out, too!

Galatians 5:25-26 The Message (MSG)

25-26 “Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

I love the way the MSG Bible Translation just adds that extra UMPH onto it! Yes? Yes!!

It is important to me that my Gurlz don’t just see me as an authority figure in their lives, but ALSO a fellow sister-in-Christ, just as much in need of Savior Jesus, as they are! AND EVEN MORE IN NEED…!!! Glory to God!!!

I am honored God placed in the hearts of every godly parent a knowledge of “self”. Knowledge of self-pride, self-righteousness, and self-worship. Meaning: Thinking we are better than we are – than how God sees us and what He and our children KNOW of us. I am thankful Holy Spirit does not allow godly (God-fearing) parents to get away with JACK. Yeah! Not on His watch!! Giggles…

As looooooooong as we have the responsibility of caring for, protecting, and managing the lives of His precious little children MORE, MUCH, MUCH MORE will be required of US, the parents of these very strong-willed, immature, thinking they know everything, heart crushing, sometimes disrespectful, sometimes sneaky, highly emotional, moody, argumentative, bratty, little confused, naive, wasteful, irresponsible, no-good-hearin’, wannabe grown, babies of the Lord. In many ways – we are them in the eyes of God. Giggles…

I thank God He’s never given up on me.

Nailah, Alaiyah –

For the many, many times I wanted to throw in the towel and just give up, I am THANKFUL God’s mercy said, “NO!! Stay the course, Dana. -It’s YOU, I’m after… YOU I’m growing and changing.”

Mom, thank you for your wise words, “Be consistent. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. No matter what.”

I see now the purpose for receiving the blessing of bearing children –

For God to ~GROW US UP~ #Godtools🛠 #weshallbelikeHim🌈😇🌺🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾

Thank you for reading and sharing in this with me.

Happy Parenting!! 😁😂😂

HE CALLS ME FRIEND By: Dana Lewis

Good Friday –

The symbol of the cross means so much to me. 😊 When I read the crucifixion of Jesus, hear the sermons of His last days here on earth leading up to His death, burial and resurrection, and learn more about actual, proven accounts and the acts of barbarism during His time – When I look upon the cross, I see my ~Friend~

I have never known this love until I learned how much Jesus sacrificed just to be my Friend.

For most of my life, I could not connect to the story of the crucifix. I could not relate to its importance until Holy Spirit answered my prayer to know my real worth to and in Jesus. Upon receiving the real spiritual gift of His sight (seeing myself as He sees me) is when I began to find connection with Him. Not long after, I could be found on my face (at the feet of Jesus) whaling in humble gratitude for the Spirit’s gift of understanding and knowledge of what Jesus purposely did for me over 2,000 years ago.

For me, in my walk with Christ, it never stops being Christmas nor Easter for me. Though I know the truth about our “man made” holidays which are to bring us into focus of the Messiah, I allow Holy Spirit to deepen their meaning in my heart. This is why I celebrate both His coming to us in the form of a baby, His 33 year long ministry (living out the will of His Father, teaching, healing, and making disciples), and the darkest day ever marked in history, to His most triumphant moment of resurrecting from the dead after He was murdered on the cross and buried in a borrowed tomb. What I have come to understand about all He went through for this world – the most powerful and most overlooked element of all of this was that HE DID IT ~ALL FOR LOVE~

When I go through each of the accounts of His life here on earth (from beginning to end) I see the image of Jesus (before coming here) walking through His kingdom, pleased by what HE KNOWS about me, my life, looking straight into my face, as He sees me from conception way into old age, He arrives here at His appointed time and He grows from infancy into a man full of wonderful things to tell me about His kingdom, His plans for me and how He will succeed in winning me back – taking me out of this world and the grips of eternal death. I see Him –

He’s looking straight into my eyes (I haven’t been thought of yet, let alone conceived)

He sees me – everything about me, my life.

He’s traveling up the road being hit, things being thrown at Him, being screamed at, spat on, knocked off balance, and as He picks up the cross to level it back onto His shoulders, He picks up every piece of my damaged life, my brokenness from my already crushed heart and every lie I’ve yet to tell, every secret I’ve yet to keep, every abusive situation I’d encounter in my lifetime, the many times I’d contemplate suicide, my many struggles with insecurities and feelings of inadequacies, my battles with self-proclaimed failures, all of my romantic breakups which would leave me feeling worthless later in my adult years, the awful arguments I’ve yet to have with anyone who’d ever profess their real love and concern for me, those who’d truly desire nothing but good for me, and those who’d never walk away from me even when I’d act out of character, the brokenness I’d endure after losing jobs, friends and opportunities to go and see the world, and every blow I’d take in stride after death has claimed the lives, the hopes and dreams of some of the most important people to me – I’ve yet to meet.

Yes, I see Jesus taking it ALL with Him – with me in mind – to gift to me a freedom I’d never fully be able to comprehend nor have the ability to explain to anyone else His reasons for ???WHY???

Why He loves me so? Why He chose me? Why He decided this way (His death, burial, and resurrection) as the most acceptable and safest passage way into life lived eternally with Him – even knowing my journey. Why He chose to forgive me knowing I would choose a life of rebellion and sin baffled me for so many years, but it was because I did not know about nor understand His grace and mercy.

Why? Why? Why? So many “why’s” I had before truly exploring into the life of Jesus, and the only explanation I have been given and have clung to ever since receiving it from His heart was this, “For a chance to know ~REAL LOVE~ and a chance to be called His ‘friend’ “. I don’t anyone realizes how real, deep and important this is to me, but THIS (being called His friend) means SOOOOOOOO MUCH to me!!!!!!

Do you know how many times a minute, a day, and a year I experience rejection from so-called people of the Lord God, and people who claim loudly to be my friend and to love me???????

I’m always let down, without fail.

NO!! I NEEDED A SAVIOR, A FRIEND LIKE JESUS Who foreknew my life path, my patterns, my not so clear thinking, my missteps and Who would be and could be the ONLY ONE interested enough in putting together the broken pieces of my heart, using the very wounds, breaks and tears, damaged areas of my mind, my distorted view of love, protection and commitment in others, the very pains and disappointments, setbacks, and the hurts I’d collect throughout the years just to build Himself a new and improved, a trustworthy, faithful, and devoted “friend”. Yes, He called me friend long before I uttered my first words. Jesus saw ME and He chose to do all of this for me.

This is why I cry and I linger at His feet, because I know today what it means to have a Friend like Jesus.

Sin was mad that Jesus STILL saw/sees and found/finds value in me. Sins job to separate us from God and to never see ourselves as He sees us, “The Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus”.

Satan HATES that Jesus traded all of heaven for a relationship with me. While Satan focuses on my past, my sins and every one of my poor choices, Jesus simply focuses on the gift of eternal life which He paid for with His own blood. It’s mine FOREVER!!

Yes, I do not deserve a Friend like Jesus, but this is what makes my story so unique – I didn’t choose Him, HE CHOSE ME.He chose Himself for me. He chose and secured my pathway to Him. He chose Himself as the most acceptable propitiation for my wretched, lost soul, my nearly wasted life. He forgave every one of my sins. Every one of them (past, present and future) the day He laid His life down for me. In the very moment when He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know NOT what they do”, I received everything He had in store for me and today I can walk in confidence that I am forgiven by my Heavenly Father and have already received eternal life with Christ. So that if I fall, if I miss the mark from time to time Christ Jesus’ blood has already covered me and is forever my Friend, forever in love with me.

As He was nailed to the cross so were my sins and my old life, along with my old thought patterns and character. He chose to remove far from me every sin I’d ever commit in my lifetime LOOOOOOONG BEFORE I was ever a thought. He did it for me. Free of charge.

So my way of saying “Thank You, Lord” is by simply receiving His gift, thanking Him, reminding myself daily of what Jesus did for me, not taking the things of this fallen world too much to heart, reminding myself we’re ALL in need of a Savior. Not one of us are perfect, not one of us died for another, only Jesus died and rose again for us all (believer and unbeliever, alike) and I remind myself I have the greatest Friend of all. His loyalty, His promises and His plan of action have all been tested and proven. He is trustworthy. We are true friends – right down to the very end. No matter what happens to me in this life, I forever have eternal life with Jesus and the very moment I close my eyes and take my last breath I am assured “Today you will be with Me in paradise.”

As I now walk my road – I see Jesus. I always see Him, smiling and laughing with me and us swapping funny stories about my life. I always see His face – the look of “You got this! Keep going!!” I see Him just as He saw me when He was preparing to come here to get me – to lead me to Him. Jesus is my Reason for continuing on through. Even when it doesn’t look like much is going well for me, I choose to stay. Why? Because I don’t know any other way to demonstrate love and gratitude for Jesus doing all He did for me. His way of loving is the only love I know and desire to pour back into Him. I love Him simply because He loved me first.

This is the message of the cross for me.

“And this is LOVE”

🎶🎶 “And this is Love, not that I have first loved You

And this is Love, that You have first loved me

And You give up Your life

One perfect sacrifice

And this is Love, that You have first loved me

You did not wait for me to make myself a worthy man

You did not wait for me to make a good and righteous stand

There was nothing I could do

In sin I had died

Yet Your love conquered death and raised me to Your side

And this is Love, not that I have first loved You

And this is Love, that You have first loved me

And You give up Your life

One perfect sacrifice

And this is Love, that You have first loved me” 🎶🎶

Songwriters: KELTONIC JOHN D / NALLE EDWARD FRANKLIN